Postpartum Food Preparation: Practical Matters
Choose fruits in season, preferably ones grown near where you live. Apples are one of our favorites. Organic purple grapes, cherries, blueberries, and mangoes are packed with antioxidant nutrients. Organic melons, peaches, and plums are also winners. Many health food markets carry organic bananas. Try some unsweetened organic applesauce for a snack or dessert. Avocado is rich in healthy fats and is great when mashed to make a spread or vegetable dip. Or stuff half an avocado with tuna, celery, and scallions mixed with a little canola mayonnaise for a quick, satisfying meal. (Mashed avocado is also an ideal early food for baby!) Also buy canned beans: black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and/or white beans. These can be added to rice for a quick meal, or to soups for protein.
Shop for cold-water fish such as salmon, cod, and mackerel. Buy canned sardines or anchovies to keep in the pantry. Canned tuna is all right once weekly, but mercury naturally accumulates in its flesh so it should not be eaten excessively. Plan to eat fish two to three times weekly.
If you like nut butters, try raw almond butter, cashew butter, or sesame butter. We do not recommend peanut butter for nursing mothers. Some data suggest that babies can develop an allergy to peanuts if the mother eats them while breastfeeding.
If you love fruit juice but do not have a juicer at home, buy natural fruit juices without added sugar, flavorings, or corn syrup. If you are nursing, avoid citrus juices. Try papaya, apple, or grape juice instead.
Most health food markets now sell several varieties of boxed broth such as organic chicken, vegetable, and mushroom. Keep a few boxes in your pantry and use for quick soups or for cooking more flavorful whole grains. Check the labels to make sure they contain only ingredients you recognize and that they don't contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is often disguised as hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
If you enjoy bread, go for those made from whole, sprouted grains, such as Ezekiel bread (also sometimes called Bible bread or fasting bread). This type of bread rarely contains preservatives, so keep it in the freezer. Manna bread is a good, dense whole-grain bread. Some artisan bakeries still make traditional breads from rye, sourdough, and whole wheat flour. If you are lucky enough to have one of these bakeries in your town, you can indulge in their breads once in a while. You can also try mochi, a chewy rice bread that you bake in the oven and cut into squares look in the refrigerated section of your health food market. Corn tortillas or whole-wheat chapatis, a type of Indian bread, are good bread alternatives. If you are sensitive to gluten, you can try gluten-free breads made from rice flour and nuts. You should be able to find these in your health food market. Toast them for better texture and flavor.
Stock up on brown rice, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), and barley in the bulk section. If you are feeling adventurous, try amaranth, millet, or kasha (roasted buckwheat).
Keep a container of miso in your refrigerator. This can be used to add flavor to soups and stews, and it makes a great broth simply boil water, turn off the heat, stir in miso, and add chopped scallions, strips of kombu seaweed (which is great in other soups, too find it at an Asian grocery or in your health food market), and small cubes of tofu.
If you don't already have them, purchase a variety of spices and herbs. Some of the basics are basil, cayenne pepper, curry powder, dill, dry mustard, garlic powder, herbs de Provence (a mixture of several herbs that is delicious in omelets, on fish, and in soups), rosemary, sage, and thyme. Chopped or minced fresh garlic that comes in a jar is a valuable time-saver, as are chopped basil and pesto (a mixture of basil, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts). When you shop for any type of condiment (or any processed foods), check the label first to make sure it does not contain dyes, flavor enhancers such as MSG, or artificial preservatives. Keep prepared salsas and organic sauces, marinades, and condiments in your kitchen to quickly add zing to meat and egg dishes.
Get yourself a supply of a few different salad dressings a vinaigrette, a creamy ranch, caesar, or bleu cheese dressing, and a tahini-based dressing (but make sure to choose brands that are not made with hydrogenated oils). At the dairy case, choose one or two varieties of organic cheese if you like to eat cheeses. Feta and aged cheddar are so flavorful that you don't need to use much to spice things up.
Other staples to purchase include organic butter or ghee (clarified butter), organic plain yogurt, maple syrup, honey, and rice milk.
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From A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins with Melissa Block. Copyright © 2002 by Dr. Dean Raffelock. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.